- The pine tree is made into a myriad of beneficial products.pine-tree image by Filip Pivarci from Fotolia.com
Long ago, Native Americans used pine needles to prevent scurvy and stuffed their mattresses with them to repel lice and fleas. Used throughout the ages by most cultures in the world for a multitude of healing and ornamental purposes, pine needles are also the main component in a diverse range of today's commercial products, from crafts to cough syrup.
Essential Oil: Aromatherapy, Therapeutic and Fragrance Component
- Like hemoglobin in the blood, chlorophyll pulsates through the veins of pine trees, differing from hemoglobin only in that its central element is magnesium, not iron. All species of pine share this phenomenon that sustains their life and imparts the ability to be evergreen and maintain most of its foliage year round, and to thrive disease-free through fluctuating temperatures and harsh climates. Humankind, fascinated by the mighty, seemingly invincible pine, long ago discovered how to harness its power and reap the many benefits of the pine's adult foliage, the needles.
Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) and dwarf pine (Pinus mugo var. pumilio) needles, when processed by the method of distillation, make pine needle essential oil for aromatherapy, home and health care products, and even food and drink.
Fragrance and Disinfectant
- Pine needle oil with its pleasant sweet-balsamic and spicy, woody scent is a fragrance ingredient in commercial soaps, bath oils, toiletries, cosmetics, men's colognes and some women's perfumes. An antiseptic and bacteriacide, pine needle oil is the active ingredient in many detergents, air fresheners, disinfectants and household cleaners.
- The pungent healing aroma of pine is the signature scent of many analgesic ointments and liniments, and a key ingredient in pharmaceutical preparations for coughs and colds, and nasal congestion.
Flavoring in Food and Beverage
- Pine oil is a leading flavoring ingredient in commercially manufactured food products across all major food groups, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages.
Ingestible Therapeutic Oil
- Japanese red pine needle oil is an organic product derived from pine needles. According to traditional Chinese medical books, Dongwee Bogam and Boncho Kangmok, the wild-crafted Japanese red pine needle oil from the Japanese red pine tree (pinus densiflora), produces remarkable results when ingested regularly; including age reversal, increased cardiovascular health, improved brain function, heightened vitality, and revitalized libido.
Pine Straw Mulch
- Pines naturally drop their dead needles on the forest floor in November, with pine straw operators only steps behind. A multi-million dollar industry, pine straw mulch is a product of the southern yellow pine group, particularly the slash pine and longleaf pine. Popular throughout America, and preferred by urban dwellers and landscapers both for its brilliant green color and dense, waxy coating that makes it more resistant than other species' needles to washing away, this long-lasting mulch is economical and eco-friendly.
Baskets and Ornaments
- Pine needles, painstakingly gathered from the forest floor, become intricately woven baskets under the skilled hands of artisans and sold in markets and upscale stores. The Seminoles, indigenous people of Florida, made pine needle baskets hundreds of years ago by sewing bundles of pine needles together with sisal, fern roots, and other roots and grasses using needles fashioned of bone or shell. Today, Native American artists and many others use pine needles to create unique works of salable art.
Decorative and functional, hand-painted and highly lacquered gourds are also a sought after art form and artisans often incorporate pine needles to make finishing rims on the gourds, and matching lids.
Thirty enterprising women, members of The World Fair Trade Organization, have formed a cooperative that handcrafts and sells whimsical pine needle Christmas ornaments to help build a sustainable community in their impoverished region of Nicaragua.